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Medications & Treatments

The two main aims of the drugs that are available for people with MS are to either ease specific symptoms (symptomatic therapies), or reduce the risk of relapses and disease progression (these are known as ‘disease modifying drugs’ or ‘disease modifying treatments’). Acute relapses are also sometimes treated using steroids to help shorten the attack and reduce its severity. The types of drugs used in treatment depend on a number of factors, including the person's type of MS.
 

Some of the drug treatments available include:

  • Immunotherapy medications slow the frequency and severity of attacks, which means the myelin sheaths are subjected to less damage; works by modifying the activity of the immune system; most often prescribed for people with relapsing-remitting MS
  • Methylprednisolone is taken as pills or an infusion; steroid medication is used to control the severity of an MS attack, by easing inflammation at the affected site
  • Immune suppressants such as methotrexate or mitozantrone, are sometimes used, especially for people with progressive MS
  • Treatments in development, a large number of new therapies being trialled in the treatment of MS

 

Get advice about medications


MS Australia does not recommend a particular therapy as this is a clinical decision which you need to make with your neurologist.
 
MS staff can provide detailed information about medications and discuss what's important in your personal decision making process: contact your state MS society.

 

Medications Fact Sheets

A treatment sheet for Ocrevus™ is currently under development.

Treatment sheets for Zinbryta® and Fampyra® were recently finalised.

Current information regarding the status of these treatments is provided below:

Fampyra®

(fampridine)

Fampyra® was approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in 2011 and is available in Australia but is not listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

 

A new treatment sheet for Fampyra®  is provided below

 

Zinbryta®

(daclizumab)

Zinbryta® was approved by the TGA in September 2016 and is available in Australia; it was listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) on 1 May 2017.


A new treatment sheet for Zinbryta® is provided below

 

Ocrevus™

(ocrelizumab)

A new MS medication called Ocrevus™ (ocrelizumab) has been approved for use in the USA to treat both relapsing and primary progressive forms of MS, making it the first ever FDA approved medication for primary progressive MS.

In Australia we are still awaiting the review from the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) and Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee before we know when the drug may become available.

More information is available from MS Research Australia:

http://ow.ly/eZqJ30aoc9S

 

If you'd like to be more informed about what specific treatments are available, download the corresponding fact sheets and discuss these treatments with your doctor or neurologist.

PDF icon Aubagio (​teriflunomide).pdf

PDF icon Avonex (interferon beta-1a).pdf

PDF icon Betaferon (interferon beta-1b).pdf

PDF icon Botox (botulinum toxin type A).pdf

PDF icon Copaxone (glatiramer acetate).pdf

PDF icon Fampyra (fampridine.pdf

PDF icon Gilenya (fingolimod).pdf

PDF icon Lemtrada (alemtuzumab).pdf

PDF icon Plegridy (peginterferon beta-1a).pdf

PDF icon Rebif (interferon beta-1a).pdf

PDF icon Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate).pdf

PDF icon Tysabri (natalizumab).pdf

PDF icon Zinbryta (daclizumab).pdf

 

Comparing different MS medications

It is difficult to directly compare the effectiveness of the different MS medications as in most cases they have not been directly tested against each other in what is known as ‘head-to-head’ clinical trials.
 
MS is a very variable disease, everyone responds differently to different medications and may experience different side-effects. In addition, life circumstances may also affect treatment choices for each individual – e.g. other medical conditions, family planning, employment, travel, etc. It is therefore important to discuss the pros and cons of any medication that is recommended for you by your neurologist in relation to all of these factors. Our medications factsheets summarise the key information for each medication to provide you with background information that you can then discuss with your healthcare providers.
 

Trials

Contact your neurologist for more information about new treatment options and whether you might be eligible to participate in trials.
 
You can see a list by state of all available and ethically approved MS trials on MS Research Australia's MS Clinical Trials website.
 
 

Treatment for specific symptoms

  • Muscle problems: a combination of medication may ease muscle problems, including stiffness and tremors. Physiotherapy is also recommended.
  • Fatigue: some studies have found that medication used to treat the sleep disorder narcolepsy is helpful in controlling MS-related fatigue.
  • Neurological symptoms: visual disturbances can be helped with medication, including steroids.
  • Continence treatment for continence problems may include special exercises, medications, continence aids (such as disposable pads) and certain dietary changes.
  • Neuropsychological problems: treatment for depression or anxiety may include counselling or medication; memory problems and other cognitive difficulties can be better managed with professional help from a neuropsychologist.

 

Seek professional advice

Get advice from your neurologist or GP about what medical treatments and self-management strategies might be most suitable for you.
 
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